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International perspectives on health systems transformation

Special issue call for papers from Journal of Health Organization and Management

Guest Editors:

Dr Gregory Maniatopoulos
Institute of Health & Society, Newcastle University, UK
[email protected]

Professor David Hunter
Institute of Health & Society, Newcastle University, UK
[email protected]

Dr Allan Best
Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, CA
[email protected]


With health systems globally facing new and complex challenges, transforming the way services are organised and provided to meet rapidly changing needs has become a major preoccupation of, and priority for, policy-makers. Recent evidence from the United Kingdom (UK) and elsewhere highlights that health and social care systems are facing mounting pressures aiming to improve outcomes and reduce inequalities at a time of increasing financial stringency and uncertainty. In particular, recent epidemiological and demographic changes, notably an aging population and a rise in co-morbidities, coupled with technological innovation and new treatments have stimulated the appetite for new approaches and ways of working directed towards improving population health, quality and patient safety. In this context, developing health systems transformation programmes has become a central theme in global health policy.

This special issue aims to address some of the challenges and lessons learnt from international attempts to implementing large-scale transformation programmes to integrated health and social care. For the purposes of this special issue we define large-scale transformation programmes as "interventions aimed at coordinated, system-wide change affecting multiple organisations and care providers, with the goal of significant improvements in the efficiency of health care delivery, the quality of patient care, and population-level patient outcomes" (Best et al., 2012: 422).

Aims and Scope

This special issue aims to contribute to the social study of health systems transformation programmes and policy implementation. Drawing upon a systems perspective the proposed topic aims to explore the development and implementation of heath and social care initiatives to address current challenges and lessons learnt about such large-scale change initiatives. We are interested to reflect on the current state and practice of international experiences from academic, policy and practitioner perspectives in the health and social care sectors.Our particular focus is on the How of transformation, rather than the What so that implies going beyond mere description to identifying and analysing the enablers and barriers to change efforts.

The special issue will contribute to the development of a more comprehensive analysis of the processes surrounding the implementation of large-scale transformation initiatives and policy.  Papers will draw on current research exploring/evaluating changes in health systems and the factors enabling and/or impeding progress. These will be of interest and relevance to policy and practice.  They will also provide material for teaching purposes especially in respect of Masters courses in health policy and management. We welcome contributions from a broad range of social science disciplines but especially political science, medical sociology, medical/social anthropology, organisational sociology, social psychology.

We are seeking submissions that cover any of the following themes:
NB: The following topics are indicative and not exhaustive. Papers on other topics under the main theme are welcome.

  • Large-scale transformation initiatives to integrated health and social care
  • Comparative case studies across countries
  • Empirical studies (qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods) of implementing new care models
  • New ways of working towards improving population health, quality and patient safety
  • Systems leadership and change
  • The role of technology and digital solution in health systems transformation programmes
  • Innovative study design, methodology and analytic approach to the social study of health systems transformation programmes and policy implementation
  • Discussion of key implications and suitable approaches for the implementation of large-scale transformation initiatives and policy


Submission deadline: February 1st, 2019
Expected Publication: Autumn 2019

Further guidance on submission:

All submissions to Journal of Health Organization and Management should be through ScholarOne Manuscripts. Registration and access are available at:

Author guidelines must be strictly followed. Please see:

Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.

The Guest Editors will conduct an initial screening of submitted papers. Those judged suitable for the special issue will be sent to at least two independent referees for double blind peer review, after which submissions may be recommended for revisions and further review, acceptance or rejection.

Interested authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue “International perspectives on health systems transformation” at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to “Please select the issue you are submitting to”.


The topic has given rise to numerous publications including by the guest editors. For example, the paper by Holmes B, Best A, Davies H, Hunter D, Kelly MP, Marshall M and Rycroft-Malone J (2017), Mobilising knowledge in complex health systems, Evidence & Policy 13(3): 539-60 was one of the top 5 most read articles in 2017. The article mentioned in introduction, Best A, Greenhalgh T, Saul J, Lewis S, Carroll S, Bitz J (2012) Large System Transformation in Health Care: A realist review and evaluation of its usefulness in a policy context, The Milbank Quarterly 90 (3): 421-56. Resulting from the WHO Europe initiative on health system transformation, Hunter is a contributing author to two reports resulting from meetings with high-level experts - WHO (2016) Health System Transformation: Making it happen, Expert Meeting Madrid, Spain, 14-15 December. Copenhagen: WHO; WHO (2018) Leading Health System Transformation to the Next Level, Expert meeting Durham, UK, 12-13 July. Copenhagen: WHO. Hunter is also lead author (with Kluge H, Bengoa R and Jakubowski E) on a chapter, Health system transformation: making it happen in Jakab M, Farrington J, Borgermans L and Mantingh F, eds (2018) Health Systems Respond to Noncommunicable Diseases: time for ambition.  Copenhagen: WHO.  Linked to this book is a special issue of Eurohealth on Leapfrogging Health Systems: Responses to NCDs, to which Hunter has contributed a chapter with co-authors Kluge H, Bengoa R and Jakubowski E (2018) Leapfrogging the Elephants: Making health system transformation happen faster, Eurohealth 24(1): 32-36.  Conference contributions related to helath systems transformation in the UK context include: Maniatopoulos G., Hunter, D., Erskine, J., Hudson, B, (2018), Health System Transformation in the UK: Implementing the New Care Models in the NHS, 11th Organizational Behaviour in Health Care (OBHC) Conference,  May 13 - 16 2018, Montreal, QC, Canada and Hunter, D., Maniatopoulos G., Erskine, J., Hudson, B, Gray J., (2017), Health System Transformation in the UK: Making it happen, International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua), October 1-4, London 2017